It took extra time and a ten minute goal rush to eliminate Tain Thistle from the Tain hosted Cordiner Cup in this afternoon's semi final meeting with Invergordon Social Club.
Coping with the absences of various players, Thistle named only two substitues, with Andrew Sutherland and John Maclellan benched while an unchanged eleven from the side that destroyed Cromarty in midweek took to the field.
The game had just started when referee Mike Stainke awarded a penalty to champions elect Invergordon Social Club, with goalkeeper Stephen Wemyss helpless to prevent the eventual spotkick. Social's early lead was cancelled out almost straight away thanks to a goalbound toepoke from the impressive Liam Rostock.
Social took the lead on the twenty minute mark however, as a ball appeared to bounce over the grasp of Wemyss leaving the Invergordon men with the easiest of tap-ins. Top scorer Darran Goller was on hand however to level the scores at 2-2.
Ever the capitalists, Social again went 3-2 up before the break, but the goal getting Daniel Christie made it 3-3 soon after. Three Thistle comebacks eventually led to a goal that would put them in front, as Rostock netted his second to make it 4-3.
Now it was Social's turn to make a comeback, and they did just that, equalising through Keith Dingwall at the far post. The Jags, now with a thirst for victory soon retook the lead, Rostock securing his hat-trick in the process, as the score stood at 5-4.
It looked as though Thistle would go through the final, with only three minutes left on the clock, but a miscommunication left Social's tall gangly forward with a chance he couldn't miss to make it 5-5.
Extra time began and it seemed that the first period would end goalless but the fortunate Social men found the net to take half time lead at 6-5. The foot was off the pedal from then for the Jags, as Social found a second wind and banged in a further two goals, before Maclellan notched a consolation for the visitors.
A ninth goal for Social killed off any hope of a comeback as Stainke blew for time.
Tain Thistle crushed Cromarty in tonight's all important double header thanks to a hat-trick from a Darran Goller and goals from Liam Rostock and Donald Matheson, handing the Jags three points and a place in the Cordiner Cup semi final.
Match report to follow.
The outstanding cup and league double header between Tain Thistle and Cromarty will now be decided this Wednesday, with a rescheduled venue of Alness Academy park.
There's everything to play for this coming Wednesday as Tain Thistle and Cromarty begin to battle it out for third place in the league AND a place in the Cordiner Cup semi final. With the cup tie originally scheduled for Cromarty this past Saturday and their outstanding league match due to be played in Tain, Wednesday's match will now take place in ALNESS with a 7.30pm kick off.
Top goalscorer Darran Goller went through some rough treatment to net the club's 500th league goal this evening, during the club's 5-2 win over Dingwall Vertex.
Scoring for the 11th time this season, Goller found the net to make it 2-0 in tonight's game before being grounded with a tackle from behind. While he was on the ground, Thistle were celebrating the club's 500th league goal during it's 15 year existence.
Post-match, club secretary Dale Finlayson presented Goller with a bottle of champagne to celebrate his milestone strike.
Following a count of votes from players and committee at the club, full-back Brian Cameron has been named as the club's Player of the Month for June.
Despite a torrid time results wise, Cameron has stood out for Thistle at right-back for the Jags, with two man of the match performances and the winning goal against local rivals Inver in the 1st round of the Coronation Cup.
The Jags got back to winning ways tonight, with five goals to the two of an organised Dingwall Vertex. Goals from Liam Rostock, Darran Goller and a first of the season for the gaffer, Robbie Ross, put the call centre men to the sword.
The team was mostly unchanged from the one who played against Alness Athletic last week, with Liam Rostock replacing Daniel Christie up front and substitute Donald Matheson joining the squad.
The introduction of Rostock resulted in an instant payoff, as the pacey forward prodded a rebound home in the first minute after a horrendous defensive error from the visitors, to make it 1-0.
It took over half an hour for either keeper to be properly tested before Thistle again found the net. A Robbie Ross free kick was saved low, before top goalscorer Darran Goller broke free to rip a prone Vertex defence apart down the left flank, before being fouled on the byline. With no booking forthcoming for the challenge, Goller eventually made amends after thirty-five minutes, walking the ball into the net to make it 2-0. The goal came after dispossessing Neil Duff, before the Dingwall defender scythed Goller down as the ball rolled home, earning himself a red card from referee Keith Middleton.
With Goller's tail now firmly up, the striker found the net again only five minutes later, turning a ball into the corner of the net inside a packed eighteen yard box to give Thistle a 3-0 lead going in at half time.
With the rain relenting in the second half, Thistle picked up a gear and began to test the Vertex stopper with a series of efforts; Liam Rostock eventually finding the net within ten minutes, slotting home to make it 4-0 for his second of the game.
Despite being a man down, the spirited Dingwall side played some good football to better the Thistle defence on a number of occasions before easing the ball home just after the hour mark to pull the score back to 4-1; Thistle's comfortable lead perhaps leaving the foot not so comfortably on the gas.
Coming up for a corner however, it was the dominant figure of player-boss Robbie Ross who secured Thistle's fifth goal, nodding home on sixty-six minutes to put the game beyond doubt.
Substitute Donald Matheson impressed within minutes of being introduced, forcing a tremendous save from Anderson after a burst of pace saw him breeze down the left wing.
Late lapses in concentration however saw the Thistle defence caught wide open again by the ten men of Vertex, as Scott Millar found the net to pull the score back to 5-2, and the Jags were lucky to escape with just that as the Dingwall men sent two glaring chances wide in the dying stages.
Goller's best efforts to secure a hat-trick were thwarted twice by the reactions of Anderson in goal for the blues, palming away a diagonal strike before winning a foul against an onrushing Goller, who looked set to tap the ball home.
The score finished at 5-2, with Thistle securing their first three points since beating Balintore in May. The result marks a welcome return to form for the Jags, who have had to deal with the loss of several important players to injury as well as a loss of form.
Wemyss, Cameron, Johnston (Gordon 81), Sutherland (Matheson 69), Ross, Farquhar, Graham (D Nimmons 69), Burry, Durrand, Goller, Rostock
Subs not used:
Rostock 1, 52, Goller 35, 39, Ross 66
Man of the Match:
In other action, Invergordon Social Club took one further step towards the league title with a 4-2 win over Inver at the Recreations Grounds. At Cromarty, Alness Athletic secured another victory, winning 5-2. The match between Ross-shire Club and Balintore was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Tain Thistle's top goal scorers of years gone-by have been etched in metal this season, and for years to come, with the unveiling of a new Top Goalscorer shield, to be presented to this season's hottest bagger.
The impressive shield, which already lists top goal scorers from 1997-2010, features names such as Alan Martin, Aaron Fraser and Darren Gilmour alongside contemporaries Calum Macdonald, Robbie Ross and Garry Perks.
The shield is expected to make it's first appearance at the club's end of season awards.